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Tips for Chattanooga-area vacationers as Disney World celebrates its 50th season

Mickey Mouse is smiling from ear to ear, welcoming thousands of visitors to his Magic Kingdom park every day as Walt Disney World Resort celebrates its 50th anniversary. The park makes every effort to ensure that its visitors have a memorable experience, from its attractions to its hotels and restaurants.

After closing for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, about 90% of Disney World has reopened, with only a few restaurants and entertainment venues still closed.

But you wouldn’t even know it.

“We are magic! Our amazing cast members make it all possible, and Disney service continues to come first, says Sarah Domenech, Public Relations Manager at Disney World.

Here’s a look at some of the new offerings as Mickey and Friends celebrate their milestone birthday now through the 18-month celebration that kicked off in October 2021.

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Tips for Chattanooga-area vacationers as Disney World celebrates its 50th season

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Menus at all four parks will go retro, featuring nostalgic dishes from 1971-72. They include some of the founder’s personal favorites, such as Walt’s Favorite Chili on a Footed Hot Dog or Cheese Fries Platter from Restaurantosaurus at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park or Walt’s Hash-Topped Filet Mignon at Hollywood Brown Derby. at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Here are more Disney Magic Heads for the 50th anniversary celebration:

– At the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, you’ll find orange duck pizza on an artisan wood-fired crust or plank-seared chicken, two popular items from the 1971 menu. 50th anniversary is fixed price; reservations are a great idea.

— Toledo at Coronado Springs Resort celebrates 50 years with braised lamb shanks with olive oil mashed potatoes, blueberry jam, garlic sauce and green peas English.

– Order a taste of Florida at EPCOT’s Coral Reef Restaurant with key lime pie topped with toasted meringue and EARidescent sprinkles.

– The Boathouse restaurant in Disney Springs celebrates with a 1970s favorite, Sweet Nostalgia Pineapple Upside Down Cake with caramel icing and whipped cream.

— Olivia’s Café at Disney’s Old Key West Resort has Spam-Cheddar Cookies with White Sauce and Honey on its menu.

– And guests can toast Disney at the park’s full-service restaurants with a glass of EARidescent Sip-a-bration, a mocktail with lemonade and strawberry punch. Or a Magical Beacon Cocktail with gin, blue curacao and lemonade.

For a full list of 50th anniversary food and treats that will only be available until October, go to disneyparks.com.go.com.

[READ MORE: What I learned on my trip to Disney World]


The fun at Walt Disney World Resort never stops, and this year will be no different. Here is an overview of what’s new, perhaps since your last visit.

— There are two water parks at Walt Disney World. Disney’s Blizzard Beach is closed for renovations, but the surf lives up to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. Guests can spend a day in America’s largest wave pool, snorkel on a coaster-shaped raft, or go on a whitewater adventure on Miss Adventure Falls. It’s a tropical oasis of water fun. Check with the park if you’re going out of season because Typhoon Lagoon closes when it gets too cold, a phenomenon that can happen as far south as Disney World.

— Keys to the Kingdom. The return to Magic Kingdom park is also one of Disney’s favorite tours, giving guests behind-the-scenes tours of the inner workings of the theme park, as well as a look at the underground tunnel system — those things you’ll never see. as you stroll through parks. Other returning tours since the pandemic are Caring for Giants, Savor the Savanna, Up Close With Rhinos and Wild Africa Trek, all offered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

– Mickey’s Magical Friendship Faire, a spectacular show filled with music and fanfare in front of Cinderella’s Castle, looks a little different as the 50th anniversary continues. There are new costumes, a new song, and the castle itself sparkles in its new rose gold and royal blue anniversary costume.

– Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is set to take off this summer at EPCOT with vehicles that take Vault riders into space, starting with a thrilling reverse launch. It’s more than a ride; it’s an all-new story within Guardians of the Galaxy set on Xander, home of the Nova Corps.

– Round-Up Rodeo, a new restaurant in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is set to open later this year. The concept is based on a toy rodeo arena in Andy’s backyard. Guests will be seated inside a western town’s play sets with an assortment of games and toys to match the rest of the park’s theme. On the menu, you guessed it, barbecue.

– Genie+, also new this year, is conveniently located within the My Disney Experience app. If you haven’t already, download the app before you walk through the doors of Disney World. The service will help you create your best Disney experience, one that’s right for you and the rest of your party. It’s also the grip that will help you get to rides faster when moving through Lightning Lanes. Genie+ will also tell you how long wait times are for your favorite attractions. You can also order food and make restaurant reservations through Genie+. It’s a wonderful new service that costs $15 per ticket each day.

— Disney Springs is the resort’s shopping and entertainment district. You will find that the lights are back on in the tent theater after being closed and dark for four years. On stage, the magnificent Cirque du Soleil show “Drawn to Life”. This first-ever collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering takes guests into a world where an animator’s desk becomes the stage and drawings come to life the same way artists and athletes do. Cirque du Soleil can.

While some of the park’s new sites, rides and restaurants won’t be complete until 2023, it’s never too early to start planning your dream Disney World vacation. For more information on tickets and reservations, visit disneyworld.disney.go.com or download the Disney World app.

Contact Anne Braly at [email protected] or annebraly.com.

then and now

Walt Disney World Resort has undergone myriad changes since its first entertainment season 50 years ago. Here’s a look at what visitors experienced that first year as they walked through the doors, after paying just $3.50 for adults and $1 for children. Now, single entry prices range from $109 to $159, depending on which parks you want to visit.

Here are some other changes seen over the years.

— Parks: when it opened, the Magic Kingdom park was the only park in Walt Disney World. Now there are three more: Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, EPCOT, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where you can live out your Star Wars fantasies.

— Restaurants: During the 1971-72 season, visitors had 11 dining options. There are now 200 dining locations, 90 of which are full-service.

— Rides: Fifty years ago, you could “do” all 19 rides at Walt Disney World in about a day. There are now 52 rides, not to mention the many shows and other attractions.

— Hotels: Walt Disney World opened its doors with two ever-popular hotels: Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Now overnight guests have 33 choices. Disney has 22 of them, and its new vacation experience, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, which opened this month, completely envelops guests in the world of Star Wars, from the decor of their rooms to scenarios based on their choices. personal. And, of course, there are plenty of new properties outside the park boundaries in Kissimmee, like Gaylord Palms and Convention Center and The Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate, both of which are theme parks with plenty for kids to do. adults and children.